Worms Ultimate Mayhem Preview – A New Can of Worms
Written Saturday, September 24, 2011 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
There are few games that have the sense of humour and singular emphasis on fun like the Worms series, and when it comes to wriggly little annelids blowing each other up, Team 17 certainly knows its onions. Yet, after years of 2D iterations of Worms, reinventing the game with Worms 3D seemed something of an unusual decision, and proved to be a divisive Marmite game. You either loved it or hated it, but we found ourselves in the former camp, and have some fantastic memories of playing Worms 3D and Worms Forts: Under Siege on the original Xbox. It was a game that undeniably suffered from a number of issues though, which Team 17 is thankfully more than aware of.
That means the developer has made every effort to ensure that Worms Ultimate Mayhem is the definitive iteration of Worms in three-dimensions, mashing together Worms 3D and Worms 4: Mayhem into one rather meaty package. Those unfamiliar with the 3D Worms games will be happy to know that the inimitable Worms spirit is all present and correct, and so obviously the same goes for Worms Ultimate Mayhem, which continues to utilise Team 17's proprietary 'poxels' (polygons and voxels) to build its environments, enabling you to blow chunks out of any part of the map with the game's vast array of weird and wonderful weaponry.
As you'd expect, the visuals have been massively overhauled too, so when Team 17's Head of Design John Dennis tells us that the water is “more waterier” and the sky is “more skyie”, it's all there to see, with smooth HD scenery and vibrant colours. “The humour seems to work better in 3D,” says Dennis. “Your Worms will mug to the camera, plead when you aim at them, scream, giggle and so on. There's more personality and loads of silly animations.” There's still a slew of silly weapons too, that run the whole gamut of daftness, from the Bovine Strike to the Inflatable Scouser, Alien Abduction, Super Sheep and Tail Nail. But if that's not quite enough insanity for you, then you can head on into the Weapon Factory, where you can create your own ridiculous weapon from three categories – airstrike, launched or thrown - whether it's a gerbil airstrike or an eyeball launcher, there's a ton of combinations and statistics to tweak.
“There's unprecedented customisation,” Dennis notes, and a look through the menus is clear evidence of that, with an item shop where you can spend gold coins acquired in the campaign on all manner of extras and a whole bunch of stuff for making your own bespoke team of worms, with different hands, hats, moustaches, glasses and speech banks to choose from. Then there's the Wormpot, a one-armed bandit that enables you to randomise various game modifiers or nudge the three reels to whatever setting you like, and there's over a million unique combinations that you can experiment with in Worms Ultimate Mayhem's matches.
Worms Ultimate Mayhem, being essentially two entire games in one, boasts a ton of content, including 60 single-player missions, 25 of which are from Worms 4: Mayhem, that take you through a time-travel caper with a number of diverse objectives to complete, bookended by humorous cutscenes with all-new audio and lip-syncing. As you progress, you'll unlock more missions beyond the core 25 available and then you'll subsequently unlock bonus concept art, adding to the fell that this is a definitive Worms 3D compendium. Multiplayer is of course the crux of what Worms is all about however, and it's the same classic turn-based gameplay that we've come to know and love, with five modes of local and online multiplayer to delve into.
There's Deathmatch, Statue Defence and Homelands among these modes, with the latter providing fort-based matches, which were always a good laugh in Forts Under Siege. It's the gameplay refinements that are worth shouting about though, and chief among these are fixes to the camera, meaning that you can smoothly zoom in and out of the maps and the camera overall is a lot 'lazier', less prone to skittish behaviour. There's also picture-in-picture now too, so you're able to fully admire the results of a well-aimed bazooka shot or an exploding sheep while retreating to safety. These might sound like minor adjustments, but they all make a big difference to how Worms Ultimate Mayhem plays and handles. In short, it's a joy.
Team 17 hasn't stopped there though, furnishing the game with superior rival AI to make things more interesting and strategical, while upgrading the visuals with HD, new shaders, real-time shadows and lighting, and a range of features to make the game more accessible to newcomers. With adjusted difficulty, Worms Ultimate Mayhem can be as easy or as hard as you like, with the narrator asking if you need help, and auto-shot assist coming into play to different degrees on the easy and intermediate settings. You can also switch the wind off if it's messing up your Worms mojo, but on the pro difficulty, you'll get no such gameplay aids.
Use of the all-new binoculars is also non-existent in pro mode, whereas in intermediate you'll get several uses and in easy you'll get loads. The binoculars enable you to zoom into your target to gain an informational readout, so you know exactly how much power to charge your weapon to and where to direct it, accounting for wind direction and so on. Obviously, it's still down to you to make the shot.
With dozens of missions and a ridiculous array of options, including seven pages of options to customise your very own game styles, a ton of things to unlock in the store using your gold coins collected during single-player and customisation up the ying-yang, Worms Ultimate Mayhem is looking as though it'll represent incredible value for money when it launches on the Xbox Live Arcade. Factor in all of the gameplay and visual enhancements, and the option to randomly generate landscapes for multiplayer based upon the single-player from the flat Arabian maps to the tall Construction themed stages, as well as 20 XBLA-exclusive challenges and Xbox Live Avatar support, and you have an essential purchase on your hands. It's time to open up a can of worms all over again.
Worms Ultimate Mayhem is scheduled to release on XBLA on September 28th for 1200 Microsoft Points.